August 4, 2010 § 4 Comments
“Truth is such a rare thing, it is delightful to tell it.”
– Emily Dickinson
“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits,
without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
– James 3:17
Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious
(Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness)
Last week, we learned the power of purity as well as the protection and peace that pursuing purity brings to our lives. This week’s focus is on three of the most obvious aspects but rarely discussed behaviors; flirting, flattery, and foolishness.
The consequences of flirting, flattery and foolishness are harmful in our relationship to God, to be sure. But these types of sins can also harm our own bodies (I Corinthians 6:18). It is a sobering thought to wonder how many people are currently suffering illnesses because they are unaware that engaging in sexual sins (physical or emotional) is the source of their illness. In fact, the majority of those that consider themselves Christians who engage in flirting, flattery and foolishness think it harmless or even beneficial.
If we dig deep down to the cause of these behaviors, we should not be surprised to find it falls into the all three of the carnal categories of sin described in I John 2:16.
“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
– 1 John 2:16
Flirting and Emotional Promiscuity
Flirting is ‘to behave amorously or to show superficial or casual interest or liking without serious intent.’ Words similar in meaning to the word flirting are: beguiling, heartbreaking, philandering, seducing, teasing, trifling, and wantonness. Words opposite meanings are: faithfulness, sensibility, and wisdom.
At the core of the behavior called flirting is deception. It is deceitfulness. It is trickery. Why do we take part in flirting? Perhaps because it an easy way to engage another person of the opposite sex, perhaps because we see it as harmless amusement, or perhaps it is a confidence builder. Many women flirt because they want to know they are desirable or they want to use such behavior to further their own agendas.
If we take a close look at why people flirt, we soon find there is one common denominator, mankind’s sinful nature. Flirting is self-advertisement. It is a way to communicate interest and availability (though many flirt to exercise their sexual power). Women who flirt are attempting to draw attention to themselves and their bodies, not to God and his Love. Pursuing purity in regards to flirting means we choose not to follow our sinful nature.
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”
– Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT)
For the single person, flirting may seem like the only way to let another know you are interested. The truth is that God knows who you should marry and when He orchestrates your first encounter with your future spouse, there will be no need to entice him or flirt with him. If we feel like we must do something to attract a mate, we are in essence saying we don’t trust God to bring our future spouse to our lives.
“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”
– Corrie Ten Boom
Those who are married and consider flirting harmless are deceived in believing they can flirt with no consequence. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Flirting or expressing interest in someone for sexual amusement is devastating to a spouse. It is sexual immorality.
God sees this cruelty and hears the cries of the spouses. The act of flirting is emotional promiscuity and spiritual unfaithfulness. The results are hindered prayers, damaged trust with your spouse, and distance in our fellowship with a loving God.
Be careful not to dismiss some behavior as flirting. Whether you are single or married, flirting should not be part of your behavior. The bible calls it wanton and warns men to flee from the presence of women who display this behavior.
If you find yourself rationalizing flirting or qualifying certain behavior to decide if it is flirtatious, remember what is found in I Thessalonians 5:22.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
– I Thessalonians 5:22
If someone who observed your behavior and could, in any way, construe it as flirting, it is better not to take part in it. It is sexual amusement and that is sexual immorality. To pursue purity and remove all that contaminates or pollutes our lives, we must seek to abstain from all (not what we think is justifiable) appearance of evil.
“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints”
– Ephesians 5:3
Finding the Flaws in Flattery
Flattery is excessive or insincere praise showered onto another with an ulterior motive. Words similar to flattery are: pander to, brown nose, suck up to, and sweet-talk. Words with opposite meanings include: caring, concern.
Flirting and flattery have the same agenda, treachery and deceit, but use different methods. The purpose of flattery is to gain attention in order to suggest, to motivate, or to beguile another to do something you want them to do. Flirting always has a sexual component, where flattery may or may not. God says much about flattery, and none of it is good.
Why do we flatter others? Perhaps we intend to compliment someone and feel the more adjectives we use the better, perhaps we want to engage another and bring their attention back to our conversation, or perhaps it is just a habit. Whatever the reason, when we excessively and insincerely praise another, we are lying.
“They speak vanity every one with his neighbour: with flattering lips and with a double heart do they speak.”
– Psalm 12:2
Flattery differs from genuine admiration and appreciation. Flattery is over-the-top untruths told to make another like us, do something for us, or distract someone’s attention. The excessive use of words is often a giveaway of a flatterer.
“In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin:
but he that refraineth his lips is wise.”
Genuine admiration is quite different. Often only a few words are needed to express appreciation to someone. Honoring another with a kind word of appreciation is not treachery or deceitful. Does this mean we are not to compliment another? No. In fact, God commands us to encourage and strengthen one another.
“Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.”
– Proverbs 3:27
Consider your best friend. Can you see her showering you with flattery? If she is a true friend, she doesn’t flatter you. A friend who cares about you does not attempt to deceive you. A true friend tells you the truth because they care about you. Sometimes this truth is hard to hear, but there is no motivation in the heart of a true friend to deceive you.
“The more we love our friends, the less we flatter them; it is by excusing nothing that pure love shows itself.”
– Jean-Baptiste Poquelin
Becoming free from foolishness
Foolishness is lacking forethought or caution. Words very similar are insensibility, irrationality, irresponsibility, ludicrousness, lunacy. Words with direct opposite in meaning are: seriousness, understanding, wisdom.
Both flirting and flattery are foolishness. But there are other obvious behaviors that prevent us from pursuing purity. Remembering our definition for purity (freedom from anything that contaminates or pollutes), we do well when we examine ourselves and our behaviors in the light of what God says is foolish behavior.
How do we know if our behavior is foolish? Below is a quick list of behaviors that reveal foolishness. You might be acting foolishly if…
- Your parents offer some advice and you despise them for it (Proverbs 15:5)
- You have a short temper (Proverbs 14:17 and Ecclesiastes 7:9)
- You brag about your immoral or unrighteous adventures (Proverbs 13:16)
- You gossip and tell those ‘white lies’ from time to time (Proverbs 10:18)
- You notice wise people avoiding you (Proverbs 13:20)
- You attempt to impress others with wise words and glib talk (Proverbs 17:7)
- Your words incite others to mischief (Proverbs 18:6)
- You can’t seem to mind your own business (Proverbs 20:3)
- You find people disengaging from conversations with you (Proverbs 26:4)
Much of the reason we take part in flirting, flattery, and foolishness is because we see it others and are unaware of the results, of which there are many. If we want a life free from anything that contaminates or pollutes, we must pursue the purity of God’s word and allow Him to change those things in us that ultimately separate us from a deep, fulfilling, pure relationship with our Creator.
There is freedom when we realize we no longer have to validate our worth by flaunting our sexual power for simple amusement. There is freedom in denying the need to deceive and manipulate others with excessive words filled with lies so that we can make another behave the way we want them to. There is freedom in knowing our life will be fulfilling and satisfying when we follow after wisdom and deny foolish behavior that only serves to harm us.
Purity is the key that unlocks the freedom from anything that prevents us from walking in fresh awareness of God each day. When we simplify our lives, examining and removing all destructive behavior, we begin to develop discernment.
Pursuing the Word:
Flirting, though widely accepted as harmless, is not so harmless in God’s eyes. Read Malachi 2: 13-14 and answer the following questions.
- What makes our offering unacceptable? (v13)
- How does God view emotional promiscuity? (v14)
In Numbers 5, God gives the ordinances for Moses to purify the Israelites. Here we see how seriously God takes the behavior of a wife. This ordinance was set in place on the basis of a husband’s suspicion, not the wife’s guilt. Read Numbers 5:11-29 and answer the questions.
- Did it matter if the wife were guilty or not? (v14)
- Was the husband shamed for being suspicious? (v31)
Proverbs has much to say about flattery. Read the references below and list the warnings or observations.
- Proverbs 6:20-24
- Proverbs 20:19
- Proverbs 26:28
- Proverbs 29:5
Proverbs has much to say about foolishness. Read the references below and list the warnings or observations.
- Proverbs 9:6
- Proverbs 9:13
- Proverbs 13:20
- Proverbs 14:7
- Proverbs 14:21
- Proverbs 15:2
Pursuing the Walk:
We’ve learned that flirting is not harmless. Any behavior that teases another by using verbal or physical communication is emotional promiscuity. What are your thoughts flirting?
Flattery is deceitful and treacherous. Take some time this week and observe flattery in others. List your results below.
Those who continue in foolish behavior do not have a bright future. Pursuing purity means we are seeking wisdom. List a time when you acted foolishly and examine the results. List your thoughts below.
Write out how your concept of flirting, flattery, and foolishness has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.
August 3, 2010 § 6 Comments
“This life was not intended to be the place
of our perfection, but the preparation for it.”
– Richard Baxter
“With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure;
and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward.”
– Psalm 18:26
Lesson Two: Purity in Order
(Power, Protection, and Peace)
The pursuit of purity in the life of a believer is a daily battleground and often brings frustration. When God reveals a truth to us, we are presented with the choice. Our options are either accept the truth and adapt our lifestyle (even though we may not understand) or disregard the truth and live in spiritual stagnation.
We may argue the point with God, we may rationalize our behavior but if we are ever to walk purely before God, we must start with the acknowledgment found in Psalm 119:140:
“Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it.”
We must establish in our hearts that His word is pure and beneficial in our lives and we must seek to love it. Many of the things God reveals are hard for us to understand because they are generally the opposite of what we have accepted as truth for so long.
Pursuing purity in our lives means we must accept God word as pure. We cannot add to, excuse, or rationalize God’s word. Our stubbornness only delays the learning process.
The Power Pursuing Purity Provides
Purity in the life of a believer is extremely powerful. In fact, purity impacts our prayers just as faith impacts our works. We know that faith without works is dead, but prayer without purity is limited at best.
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus makes a simple but astonishing statement that certainly set the hearts of His listeners ablaze with indignation.
“Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.”
Many believe this is a promise that will be fulfilled when this life ends and we enter eternity. While this is certainly true, this verse is also a statement, an observation Jesus is making to His followers. There is power in a walk of purity that results in the ability to open our eyes to see what is found in Psalm 27:13 ‘…the goodness of God in the land of the living.’
Those who pursue purity with their whole heart and in all areas of their lives are those that are continually confessing, continually cleansing and continually drawing closer to God.
After several years of reading, reasoning, and arguing with God, C. S. Lewis, the atheist turned Christian, made this observation:
“It is safe for Jesus to say that the pure in heart shall see God, for only the pure in heart want to.”
Pursuing a pure heart, confessing our faults, and learning more of God each day also carries the power to heal. In James 5:16, we find that confession is the prerequisite to this power.
“Confess your faults one to another,
and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”
The power of a pure heart is known even among unbelievers. Have you ever had an unbeliever approach you asking you to pray for them? Why do they do this? Because they feel your prayers are more powerful than theirs. Be thankful for these times for it is a physical reminder that you are exhibiting a life that pursues purity.
When we do not pursue purity and we resist God’s revelation to us, we prevent the power of purity. Psalms 66:18 tells us that are prayers can go unheard if we are not pursuing purity of heart.
“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me”
Regarding iniquity means to give attention to it, defend it or rationalize it. In this struggle to defend our actions or behaviors when God has clearly revealed a sin in our life, we deflate the power of our prayers. Oswald Chambers puts it this way …
“We begin by trusting our ignorance and calling it innocence, by trusting our innocence and calling it purity; and when we hear these rugged statements of Our Lord’s, we shrink and say – But I never felt any of those awful things in my heart. We resent what Jesus Christ reveals.”
–Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, July 25
This does not mean that God does not love us or that He will not give for our basic needs, but obedience and purity are keys to blessings.
To illustrate this rewarding of obedience, consider an instruction you’ve given your child. You ask him to clean his room. He resists your instruction and disobeys. He sees nothing wrong with the state of his messy room. You allow him to disobey and still provide for his necessities such as food, shelter, and clothing, but when he comes to you asking for a privilege, you refuse.
If you overlook his disobedience and allow the privilege, you are encouraging bad behavior. The result is that the child is taught he will receive his basic needs but privileges or blessings are withheld until he learns obedience. In essence, you have done as Psalm 66:18 states. You would not hear him until he obeys your instruction.
It is the same with God. If God brings to our minds a behavior He wants removed from our lives and we begin to justify it, rationalize, or ignore it, we are regarding that behavior and our desire to continue in that behavior over and above what God wants in our lives. God would be doing us a disservice if He heard our requests while we continued in disobedience.
The Protection Pursuing Purity Provides
Purity is a powerful witness tool and provides protection for the believer to those who know you personally and even those who know you only by reputation. The effects of purity in your life can speak for you even when you can’t.
Think of Mother Teresa and her life of self-sacrifice for those around her. Now consider what your reaction would be if you learned that Mother Teresa sold the movie rights to her life story for a millions of dollars, started shopping for the latest fashions, bought a house in the Hampton’s and began hosting elaborate dinner parties. It would be absurd to think that Mother Teresa would do such things, no? Mother Teresa’s devotion and commitment to others is well-known. She sought a pure life and her pursuit of purity protects her reputation.
The protection pursuing purity provides is also demonstrated in the life of Billy Graham. Admired and respected both by believers and non-believers because of the commitment he made early in his ministry of high standards of purity. As a result of the pre-established boundaries and an effective pursuit of purity, slander and scandal is never mentioned in regards to his ministry.
Pursuing a pure life requires safeguards. These safeguards protect us and reduce the risk of temptations. The best way to pursue purity is to set up rules and safeguards for all areas of your life. Temptations and opportunities to fail in your Christian walk are then limited, if you have established guidelines in your life.
Before my pastor was a pastor, he drank heavily. After he finally answered God’s call to the ministry, he committed that he would never drink again, even casually or with a meal. Of that commitment he says “No one ever got drunk drinking a glass of tea.” This commitment, in advance, protected his testimony and his witness and resulted a slander free ministry.
“There is no point in praying for victory over temptation if we are not willing to make a commitment to say no to it.”
– Jerry Bridges
A life of safeguards and pursuit of purity will protect us. After all we are the hunted. We are marked prey. Our adversary is always roaming and apt to attack us in those areas we have not established guidelines of protection.
If someone were to make a scandalous comment about you, would it be believed? Pursuing purity protects and defends your witness and your reputation.
“For so is the will of God, that with well-doing
ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:”
– I Peter 2:15
The Peace Pursuing Purity Provides
When we make an effort to keep our eyes focused on God, we can expect peace as a result. When we let our minds wander and do not heed the calling of our Creator to a life of purity, we find ourselves dissatisfied, disillusioned, and broken. When we walk in purity, when we are in a continuous state of learning, growing, trusting and God bestows on us a perfect peace.
“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace,
whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee”
– Isaiah 26:3
In Philippians we are given the promise that even when life gets in the way, when our events overwhelm us, when we find ourselves in moments of uncertainty, that the pursuit of purity (of seeking God at every moment) will keep our hearts and minds.
“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7
Imagine living a life of peace, of quietness and comfort that is beyond comprehension. Those who pursue purity, who seek to know God, who follow Him and yearn to be with Him experience this peace. It is the hallmark quality of a Christian.
When we are rightly related to our Creator it is as if all elements of the universe fall into place and the world God created comes alive with beauty. It is a precious gift indeed.
When we pursue purity, we find this peace. God wants us to know this serenity and confidence and to maintain it throughout our lives. This is why God calls us to a life of purity. Though the purifying process is sometimes painful and though we may not understand why God ask us to do certain things in certain ways, we are His creation.
“For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus unto good works,
which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.’
– Ephesians 2:10
We want the energized power to our prayers; the protection a life where we have set up safeguards provides; and peace is promised to us when we keep our minds focused on God.
The power, protection, and peace that a pursuit of purity in the life of a believer affords is worthy of any effort we put into it.
Into The Word
1. James 3:17 describes wisdom from God as pure. Proverbs 18:1 describes how we become estranged from wisdom and gives the reason. What is this reason?
2. Psalm 51 reveals David’s repentant heart after being confronted with his sin. Read the following verses and list the answers?
- What is the first step to purity? (v3)
- Who do we ultimately sin against? (v4)
- What does God want from us? (v6)
- What does sin take from us? (v8)
3. Psalm 19: 8 describes God’s instructions as right and pure. It also gives the result of pursuing them. What are these two things?
4. Proverbs 22:11 tells us how to have friends in high places. What must we do?
5. What is the prerequisite for the blessings of God? Read Psalm 24:3-5 and list the answer below.
6. Can God’s power be limited in our lives? Read Psalm 66:18 to find the answer.
7. Can God’s protection be limited in our lives? Read Romans 1:28 to find the answer.
Pursuing the Walk
- Many times we can understand the meanings of words by seeing their antonyms (words opposite in meaning.) Using a dictionary or thesaurus, list the antonyms of the following words.
- Purity is freedom from anything that corrupts, contaminates, or pollutes. Are there areas of your life that need this freedom?
- Purity puts power in our prayers. Are your prayers powerful? Explain why or why not.
- Rumors and scandal are not a threat to those who pursue purity. Would your witness and testimony protect you if a scandalous story was told about you?
Write out how your concept of pursuing purity has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.
Deeper Into the Word
Power of Purity
James 5:17-18 (Power shown in Elijah’s life)
John 15:7 (Power of praying God’s will)
Matthew 5:8 (Power to see God)
Protection of Purity
Esther 6:1-3 (Protection given to Ester)
Daniel 1:8, 6:23 (Protection given to Daniel)
II Kings 6:16-17 (Protection given to Elisha’s servant)
Peace of Purity
II Timothy 4:7-8 (Peace given to Paul)
I Chronicles 22:9 (Peace during King Solomon’s rule)
Isaiah 26:3 (Peace promised to every believer)
August 3, 2010 § 8 Comments
“Simplicity reaches towards God,
Purity apprehends and tastes of Him.”
– Thomas A Kempis –
“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience,
and our bodies washed with pure water.”
– Hebrews 10:22 –
Lesson One: Pondering Purity
(Questionnaire and Discussion)
While doing research for this Bible Study, I read several of the most popular Women’s Magazines searching for articles on the issue of purity. I was not surprised to discover there were very few. Purity, it seems, is not a popular topic.
While reading these magazines, I began to see a pattern in the types of articles. Almost every magazine contained at least one questionnaire, survey or quiz. Apparently, as women, we love to answer questionnaires.
Questionnaires are research instruments used to gather data and feedback. For group discussions, questionnaires start conversation and give the basis for a meaningful exchange of ideas.
The topics and issues of this study are designed to challenge your thinking and promote an in-depth study of God’s word on the subject of purity in all areas of your life. What better way to do this than to begin with a questionnaire?
There are 47 questions in this lesson, far too many to discuss during a weekly bible study meeting. No space is provided for written responses because the purpose is to start discussions rather than gather data.
Prior to the class meeting, take enough time to contemplate your answers and mark the questions you wish to discuss with others. Begin with the questions that you feel most comfortable discussing.
Do not be concerned if find you have no answer for many of the questions. The purpose of this Bible Study is to pinpoint those areas and dive into God’s word and discover the truth for ourselves.
Some questions are of a personal nature and may be improper for discussion in a group setting. For that reason, you are encouraged to answer all questions for your own benefit but use discretion if other members choose not to engage a particular topic.
Now, find a quiet place where you can consider the questions and let’s get started.
Lesson One: Pondering Purity
(Questionnaire and Discussion)
- What is the definition of purity?
- What is the opposite of purity?
Lesson Two: Purity in Order
(Power, Protection, and Peace)
- What is the definition of power?
- What is the opposite of power?
- Are your prayers are powerful?
- What is the definition of protection?
- What is the opposite of protection?
- Is your life fully protected by God?
- What is the definition of peace?
- What is the opposite of peace?
- Are you living a life of peace with God?
Lesson Three: Purity in the Obvious
(Flirting, Flattery, and Foolishness)
- What is the definition of flirting?
- What is the opposite of flirting?
- Do you feel flirting is harmless?
- What is the definition of flattery?
- What is the opposite of flattery?
- Do you feel flattery is harmless?
- What is the definition of foolishness?
- What is the opposite of foolishness?
- Do you feel you are wise or foolish?
Lesson Four: Purity in the Obscure
(Meandering, Modesty, and Meekness)
- What is the definition of meandering?
- What is the opposite of meandering?
- Do you feel that meandering is harmless?
- What is the definition of meekness?
- What is the opposite of meekness?
- Do you feel you show meekness in your life?
- What is the definition of modesty?
- What is the opposite of modesty?
- Do you feel modesty is important?
Lesson Five: Purity in the Oblivious
(Authority, Appearance, and Appetite)
- What is the definition of authority?
- What is the opposite of authority?
- How does authority impact your relationship with God?
- What is the definition of appearance?
- What is the opposite of appearance?
- How does your appearance impact your relationship with God?
- What is the definition of appetite?
- What is the opposite of appetite?
- Do you feel your appetites/desires are under control?
Lesson Six: Purity in the Obedient
(Status, Satisfaction and Substance)
- What is the definition of status?
- What is the opposite of a status?
- Describe your status in relationship to God.
- What is the definition of satisfaction?
- What is the opposite of satisfaction?
- Are you satisfied in all areas of your life?
- What is the definition of substance?
- What is the opposite of substance?
- Are you living a life of substance?
Pursuing The Word
1. Our reaction to God reveals the purity of our heart. Whatever is in our hearts shapes our view of God. Read the following verses and list the reason some see God as hostile, froward, or unsavory.
2. Hebrews 10:22-24, instructs us to draw near to God, hold fast, and encourage others. Read this passage and discover …
- In what condition are we to draw near to God? (v. 22)
- What Jesus done with our minds and our consciences? (v.22)
- What has Jesus done to our bodies? (v.22)
- With clean hearts, minds and bodies – what are we to do then? (v.23)
3. Just as you can tell the type of tree by its fruit, read the verse below to discover what is the behavior of one who is pursuing purity in their lives.
4. We need to know the condition of hearts and the remedy God gives. The following verses give us the answers.
Pursuing the Walk
- After reading, reflecting and contemplating the questionnaire, note those questions you would like to discuss with your study group.
- Write out how your concept of how pursuing purity has changed while preparing and participating in this lesson.